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GIR rises at record high of $93.3 B

By Lee C. Chipongian

The country’s gross international reserves (GIR) rose to an all-time high of $93.3 billion as of end-May, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno announced on Tuesday.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno. (Bloomberg)

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno. (Bloomberg file photo)

The GIR is $2.35 billion more than end-April’s $90.94 billion and $7.94 billion higher than same time last year of $85.36 billion.

In a statement, the BSP said the government’s foreign currency deposits from its ROP Global Bonds contributed to the higher GIR. The central bank’s foreign exchange operations also added to the buffer.

The Philippines issued $2.35 billion of 10-year and 25-year Global Bonds in April. The government also had a EUR 1.2 billion double tranche offering in January.

In the meantime, the government regularly make foreign currency withdrawals from the BSP to pay for maturing foreign currency loans.

According to the BSP, the “hefty level of GIR represents an external liquidity buffer which can cushion the domestic economy against external shocks.”

“Specifically, it ensures availability of foreign exchange to meet balance of payments financing needs, such as for payment of imports and debt service, in extreme conditions when there are no export earnings or foreign loans,” the BSP said.

At current levels, the GIR is good enough for 8.4 months’ worth of imports of goods and payments of services and primary income. It also sufficient to cover seven times the country’s short-term external debt based on original maturity and 4.6 times based on residual maturity, said the BSP.

Diokno said two weeks ago that they have revised the GIR projection for 2020 to $90 billion which was already exceeded in April. For next year, the BSP estimates a GIR level of $91 billion.

Before COVID-19 happened, Diokno and the BSP were reviewing diversification of the country’s reserves and looking into new investment opportunities.

The BSP was previously maintaining $10 billion worth of externally-managed portfolios of which 42 percent are invested in the US-dollar hedged instruments.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://business.mb.com.ph/2020/06/23/gir-rises-at-record-high-of-93-3-b/)

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